We just got our hands on Goog’s new Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media player. In one word; it ROCKS! For the price it just can not be beat! One thing to keep in mind is the marketing materials make it appear as though the dongle is powered through the HDMI connection. It is not. The dongle needs to be plugged in any time you’re using it. The pictures they released do not show this at all. As you can see in our highlight in the above image. If your TV has a USB port you will be fine. But if your TV does not come with a USB port, it comes with a wall adapter. It’s all good to see competition in the digital market place. This is a win for Google in our book!
What it Is:
It’s a HDMI dongle that is powered by Chrome OS that is designed for Streaming.
How it Works:
You have to connect to the same Wi-Fi network for it to work. Once it’s setup you’ll see the Chromecast logo and a basic Home Screen with some of the first apps available for Chromecast. A lot of development is going into it, so expect to see more apps from the Google Play store work with your TV. See your phone/tablet/computer more of a remote, rather than an actual streaming device.
We only tested on the iOS side and we can tell you that it works very well. It is NOT like Apple’s AirPlay where your screen is mirrored, but rather uses “the Cloud” to access your content. It works smoother than AirPlay because it doesn’t require buffering from your device, but rather directly to the TV. The only “syncing” that occurs is the Cloud communicating to the Chromecast where you’re at. For example: We are watching a Netflix movie and we are at 1:06:17. We hit the Square button with the wi-fi looking icon called “Cast” and it syncs it to our Chromecast. This is only different for web-browsing through the currently Beta Chrome Tab Cast, where it’ll show exactly what you’re looking on Chrome, onto your TV. It’s less functional than straight up mirroring like the Apple TV, but it works. You can’t switch between apps and have that show on the screen. This is particularly useful in web-based presentations or while you check your email and your friends are watching Netflix.
Battery Drain on Mobile Devices:
Because of the way Chromecast works, it’s streaming information from the Cloud vs. from your device. We noticed very little increase in the usage of battery on my iPhone 5 and my Macbook Air running Mountain Lion OSX.
Support for Streaming Services:
Right now, Streaming Service support is limited. Netflix, Google Services (Google Play, YouTube) and Web-based Streaming is allowed. I had issues trying to load Hulu the past couple days, telling me that my browser was unsupported, but I’ll update once I get a chance.
The power adapter is an optional requirement. In fact, most modern TV’s with HDMI 1.4 or higher spec are supported. The Chromecast can draw power from the HDMI port it’s plugged into. If your TV doesn’t support that, there’s also a USB cable and power adapter included in the box. I have a 2012 LG LED and a 2013 Lenovo 27″ Monitor with HDMI input and the ports power it with no cable.
All in all, I feel like it’s still a huge work in progress. The SDK will allow for some exciting developments, and I’m happy to say that Google has committed to support this device for quite some time. It gives me piece of mind that this won’t become out of date each year.
That being said, it’s only $35. What a steal for a device that really brings value to any TV.
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